In line with the saying that there is no darkness but ignorance, a police official in Sindh has introduced an innovative idea of setting up small libraries in police lock-ups. This is aimed at enabling suspects lodged in lock-ups to spend their time on broadening their vision by reading books and magazines. In the past one month, SP Sukkur Irfan Samo has set up small libraries in around 10 lock-ups within his jurisdiction. Every morning the inmates are provided with daily newspapers too. The books in the libraries have mostly been donated by authors and civil society groups. The police officer himself selects the books and he has a good idea of what kind of books the inmate should read.
The books are on topics that can help create or increase enlightenment. The official says, “It is like a rehabilitation concept. The inmates should be treated like human beings; they should be provided all the rights guaranteed in the constitution.” He plans to replicate the initiative at all police stations in his jurisdiction, and looks forward to replication of the idea all across Pakistan. He says the first-time offenders should be kept separate from the habitual offenders in order to protect them from the bad influence of the latter. In fact, prisons are meant to be reformatories. Paying attention to the mental improvement of inmates will go a long way in reducing the crime rate. The initiative will also help improve the police’s image. Generally, the police are seen as oppressors. The authorities need to be more focused on this aspect of governance.
There is, however, a caveat here. The idea is based on the assumption the literate inmates will be interested in reading, which may or may not be true. So there is the need to motivate the literate inmates to read books, magazines and newspapers.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2019.
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